Exploring the Huron Side

Yesterday afternoon we decided to take a driving tour of the northern lower peninsula and the Lake Huron coast. We’ve been on the east coast of the state once since we moved here over two years ago, and we didn’t really even get out of the car. Since it was such a steamy day, we didn’t do too much adventuring, but even so, we ran across a few gems.

Obviously the Mackinac Bridge is awesome. It took some doing, but we finally found the beach we drove out onto during our first trip up here in June ’08. Parking is available now, but you can still pull right out onto the pebbles to take in the view.

Also, there’s a lighthouse about 0.1 miles away from the beach. At first we felt foolish for having missed it four years ago, but it must’ve been tucked away behind some trees; they re-opened it in ’09.

Down in Cheboygan, we walked along the beach – which only had one other group of people on it – over to the little crib light. Stationed right next to the Cheboygan River, it’s a beacon to boats like the huge Coast Guard behemoth below. Unless they already have full-fledged lighthouses, all breakwalls should have baby lighthouses.

Continuing downstate, we stopped at the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, so named because it’s 40 miles southeast of Old Mackinaw Point and 40 miles northwest of Thunder Bay. The site was a little kitschy, decorated with red, white, and blue bunting, but it did happen to be shrouded in light fog (thanks to a sun shower that we missed), so that kind of made up for the cheap plastic triangles dangling here and there.

Just as we finished snapping photos, we spotted a sign point to a shipwreck. Who can resist that? The remains sit right on the beach, couched in sand. The wood, metal rods, and spikes are all that’s left above ground of one of the first freighters for carrying iron ore in the Great Lakes. The Fay ran ashore in 1905 during a fight with violent storms. Fortunately (can you say “fortunately” in a case like this??), almost everyone on board made it out alive. The first mate died while swimming through the freezing waters. On days like today, it’s hard to imagine the savagery of the lakes in a fall storm. Having seen some of those storms, it’s even harder to understand how folks find the courage to go out in that weather.

We had dinner in Rogers City at a small place that far surpassed our expectations. We chatted with our waitress who directed us to the quarry where they load calcite onto freighters. We watched a cloudy, oddly industrial sunset over the machinery before heading back home.

At about 9:00pm, we drove past a sign reading Ocqueoc (ah-key-ock) Falls. Given that it was about half an hour past sunset, we didn’t have great expectations. There were no signs to indicate that we were not about to embark upon an 11-mile hike, but we were pretty sure we could hear the falls from the parking lot. With only a five-foot drop, they’re not the most dramatic falls I’ve seen, but they are the largest falls in the lower peninsula. Entirely unexpected and bathed in moonlight – not the worst way to discover a place 🙂

9 thoughts on “Exploring the Huron Side

  1. My goodness, girl, you have the Travel Bug! I grew up going to my grandparent’s cottage near Forestville on Lake Huron. Loved the feel of it. My mom and I went back a few years ago and I marveled at the differences in feeling between Huron, Michigan and Superior. It’s like each lake has a separate personality, a separate spirit. Do you think so?

    • As I frequently find myself saying: Tony and I are road-tripping fools 😉
      I absolutely think the lakes each have their own personality, and how could they not? They experience the sun and winds from different directions, and each have their history with shipping, not to mention all the little towns around their coasts. In places they all look so similar, but I think it’s their differences that draws me to each of them independently.

  2. A wonderful day trip! You mentioned Cheboygan and it brought back such memories – we lived on Lake Michigan near Cheboygan many many years ago when I was but a young lass, still at the age where playing in mud puddles was a thrill. I remember being told it got its name when an Indian chief came back from a hunting expedition to find his wife, who was pregnant when he left, had given birth – “She boy gan”.

    • I still think playing in mud puddles is a thrill, but I do have the good sense not to ruin my clothes anymore (usually!) 🙂
      According to wikipedia – which we all know is a to-be-trusted resource – “…the precise meaning is no longer known. It may have come from an Ojibwe word zhaabonigan meaning “sewing needle”. Alternatively, the origin may have been “Chabwegan,” meaning “a place of ore.”” I like your story too though!

  3. Just checked a photo album – we spent time at the Terre Andre State Park and the sign says Lake Michigan thataway, but the map shows Cheboygan on Lake Huron, so I’m confused. Is there also a Sheboygan?

    • There is also a Sheboygan…on the other side of Lake Michigan. It looks like you were south of Sheboygan, WI. Cheboygan, MI is way on up around Lake Michigan, through the Straits of Mackinac and into Lake Huron.

  4. I really am not trying to dominate your blog, but now I have figured out we lived near Sheboygan,Wisconsin. In any case, your blog brought back some fond memories.

    • No worries! Perhaps I should have read each of your comments before responding to them individually 😉 I’m glad we’ve both used “teh interwebs” well! Also, I’m glad you’ve relived some nice memories on The Big Lake.

  5. Hi Heather,
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Cheboygan to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!

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